- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Officials say a nearly 200-foot tall cross in Southern Illinois recorded close to 10,000 visitors last year.

The Effingham Daily News reports (https://bit.ly/1CURTZD ) 9,479 people visited the Cross at the Crossroads. That’s about 2,000 more visitors than in 2013.

The cross and Welcome Center are located along Interstate 57 near Effingham.

Carol Gapsis is the director of the Welcome Center. She says the cross is more than just another landmark for travelers.

Gapsis says: “It serves as a beacon of hope for people.”

She says volunteer greeters record the number of visitors, which has varied since construction was complete in 2001.

Gapsis says the largest number of visitors was 12,505, in 2009.

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